How to Take Care of A Bunny Rabbit – Pet Care Basics 101

How to Take Care of A Bunny Rabbit
How to Take Care of A Bunny Rabbit

Are you interested in pets? The best pet to have around is a bunny, very attractive and social. But before you decide to bring a one home, there are a few things you need to know, especially those that concern how to take care of him/her to make him/her happy, and that is what we are going to discuss here.


What Do Rabbits Need

Apart from the basic needs of animals such as food and shelter, bunnies need love, love and more love. Though their personalities differ from one to another, rabbits are generally very affectionate It doesn’t take long to bond with them, more so if you are caring and tender in handling them. When it comes to feeding, rabbits like dry food, hay and fresh vegetables. They should also be provided with enough drinking water. The young ones can be fed on alfalfa while the adult ones can be fed on oat hay, grass hay or Timothy hay in addition to the aforementioned feeds.

Am I Going To Be a Good Owner

Just like cats or dogs, bunnies usually know their owners very well. They will bond closely with you and recognize you physically and by your voice. You will only be a good owner if you know how to handle them well and are patient enough. This is because they can even jump on your laps and follow you from one room to another. Once they get used to your voice, you will even be able to command them to come to you. If you are rough and you have a scaring voice, you can’t be a good bunny owner.

  • You need to be patient
  • You need to have a sense of humor
  • You have to enjoy watching their movements and learning rabbits language
  • You have to create plenty of time to be with them
  • You need to be ready to spend a lot of time on the floor

Should My Rabbit Be Indoor or Outdoor

The choice as to whether to keep your rabbits indoors or outdoors is a very personal one. This is because each has its advantages and disadvantages.  Being indoors ensures safety from predators, provided you don’t have other pets that can prey on them and the house is well secured from external aggression. Being indoors also gives you a good opportunity to monitor their health and to give them companion.  The disadvantage of having rabbits indoors is that they are very destructive. They chew on anything they can get around – electric cables, furniture, woodwork, rugs, to name just a few.

Keeping rabbits outdoors is good if a member of the family is allergic or if you have other pets that are not friendly to them. A rabbit kept outside has much freedom to live their natural life that involves burrowing, chewing, digging and tunneling. The main disadvantages here are that it may not be easy to monitor their health and they will tend to be lonely. 

If your room is large enough, it is better to keep them indoors. 

How to Setup a Safe Indoor Rabbit Corner

Once you have decided to keep them indoors, the next step is to set up a place for them. Choose a well-ventilated place that’s neither too hot nor too cold. A dirty or dusty place may not be good for your rabbit’s health and the cage should be raised off the ground to enhance air flow. The rabbits should get diffused light and not direct rays from the sun. The corner should also be free from loud noise.

The cage should be lined with bedding of thick cushion, 5-6 inches, to protect their legs. You can use hay, sawdust or straw. Don’t line the cage with a carpet as they can chew this and it might obstruct their bowels. Fill the litter tray with a layer of nontoxic litter, newspaper, and put hay at the top. The hay should be changed daily, while the whole litter tray can be changed weekly.

Get the Right Size and Right Type Cage

The size of cage depends on the size of the rabbit. The sizes of rabbits vary widely, from 2-3lb (1.3kg) to about 22lb (10kg). When buying or building a cage, consider the weight of the adult rabbit because you will not be replacing the cage as the rabbit grows.

Generally, the height of the cage should allow the bunny to sit upright. The width should be twice bunny hops while the length should be more than thrice bunny hops.

Two small rabbits can be accommodated in a 150x60x00 cm cage, while larger rabbits can stay in a 185x90x90cm cage. There are many types of cages out there. You may choose the one with side extension that can give your rabbit more space to roam around.

How Often Should I clean The Cage?

Ideally, the rabbit’s cage should be cleaned thoroughly once a week, but this is not a rule. Doing a little cleaning daily makes the work easier but you have to set a routine to do thorough cleaning. The number of cleanings also depends on the size/age of the rabbit, the size of the cage and how the rabbit is trained to use the litter tray. While doing thorough cleaning, all toys and accessories should be removed and scrubbed with water and soap.

Is Hay the Best Bedding For My Bunny

There are many materials that can be used as bedding for rabbits. These include newspaper, paper pulp, wood pellets, paper pellets, shredded cardboard, straw, softwood litters (sawdust or pine shavings), and hay. Hay stands out among these because rabbits also eat it. It keeps the rabbits warm and is cheap if you buy it in bales and have a place to store it. You can mix Alfalfa hay and Timothy hay to make your rabbit happier.  Make sure the hay you choose is not too dusty, sweet smelling and is free from mold. Even though some farmers use softwood litters, it has been found to cause liver diseases to small animals including rabbits. Please do not use it unless the cage is well ventilated and you must cover it with another material.

Where Do Bunnies Go Potty

Untrained rabbits will always choose corners to ease themselves. They like private places that are enclosed. Some may also drop their waste anyhow on the floor, though this is very rare because rabbits are clean animals. To avoid messing up, it is necessary to litter-train your rabbit early enough. 

When Do I Start Litter Training

Litter training should begin immediately you bring your bunny home. Rabbit are naturally clean animals and liter training them might not be as difficult as many might think. Adult rabbits tend to learn faster than young ones but this is not a reason to keep the young ones untrained as they might get used to messing around. Immediately you set up the cage, put up the litter tray before you bring the bunny in. Put some pellets in the tray to help direct the bunny to it. If you choose to put it up later, then you can put it at the spot where the rabbit likes to defecate and urinate.

Do I Need Odor Spray

As stated earlier, rabbits are very clean animals but this does not rule out the chances of having some odor especially if the cage is not well cleaned.  Spraying is not bad. However, remember that rabbits are very sensitive to chemicals. Do not use sprays that cover up the smell by adding fragrance, but rather use a mineral like Zeolite that absorbs odors naturally. We also have S.A.M. Zer-Odor Spray and Petrotech that do not cover the odor but eliminates it completely. There are also products like Small Animal Bi-Odor by Marshall that can be placed in rabbit’s drinking water to reduce odor.

Do Rabbits Like To Hide In Their Cages What Does That Mean

Being prey species, rabbits tend to hide when they feel threatened. They also hide when stressed, feeling unwell, afraid, or when they are tired and want to be alone and away from humans and other rabbits.  It is therefore advisable to provide them with hiding places and not to disturb them while hiding, unless you want to check their health condition. A hiding place that they can easily access makes them feel reassured and safe. If you have more than one rabbit in a cage, provide a hiding place for each so they can hide simultaneously. The smaller rabbits can be provided with hiding places whose entry is too small for the larger rabbits. This ensures that the smaller rabbits can hide from the larger rabbits if need be.

5 Most Important Things Every Rabbit Must Have

Here are the 5 things that rabbits can’t do without:


This is a basic need for all leaving things. Rabbits should be well fed, especially on hay. Do not offer them tree branches, vegetation or plants unless you are sure they are safe.


This is another basic need. Housing keeps predators away and keeps the rabbits warm.

Socialization and General Care

Being social animals, rabbits need you to play with them. You also need to take care of them as you would a small child.


A litter box is very necessary for rabbits. This ensures the rest of the cage is clean and free from odor. You can also provide them with toys to play with.

Medical care

Whenever you notice any unusual behavior in your rabbit, invite a veterinarian to check him. Older rabbits need to be checked annually to ensure they are in good health.

How Important Is Chewing For Bunnies

Chewing is a natural behavior for rabbits. They also like digging and burrowing which are quite normal. Their teeth grow unceasingly and may overgrow if not worn down by chewing and this may cause them to injure their tongues. Their teeth grow by up to 2mm per week. The wounds inside their mouths may make them stop eating altogether. However, chewing becomes a problem when the rabbit chews the wrong things. That is why you need to rabbit-proof your house before you bring the bunny in. Provide them with items that they can safely chew and remove the ones that can cause them trouble.

How Often Should I feed My Rabbit

Rabbits have different tastes and eating habits but they should be fed twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. Provide them with unlimited supply of grass/hay plus a handful of leafy plants, vegetables or fruit. If possible, you can include a small quantity of commercial feeds up to 25g/Kg of the weight of the rabbit. Remember also to give them a constant supply of fresh water.  Do not be surprised when your rabbit eats his faeces, this is very normal and it helps them to get maximum benefit from their food in terms of nutrition.

Do Rabbits Snack Like Humans Do

Rabbits do snack, but just like humans, too much snacking is not good for their health and should be provided in moderation. In addition to their normal feeds, vegetables, dry feed and hay you can give them a little snack once or twice. Rabbit snacks may include fresh fruits, berry mix, vegetables and hay bales.  Their snacks come in different shapes, colors and scents.

Rabbits should not be fed on carbohydrate rich foods like pretzels, pasta, chips, crackers, cookies, cereal or breads. Many of these can be branded as rabbit feeds but they are high in sugar and fat and should therefore be avoided.

You can treat your rabbits on:

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples without seeds
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas

What About Rabbit Health What Do I Need To Pay Attention To

Rabbits are very active animals that like to play around. In the process they can get injuries or can just fall sick. Limping, for example, is an obvious sign that your bunny has been injured. Other signs that can show you that your rabbit is not well include:

Stiff Posture

When you rabbit sits stiff or is hunched in his posture, then something might be wrong.

Changes In Appetite

You know approximately how much your rabbit consumes in a day. If this changes, it is a cause for alarm.

Unkempt Fur

A healthy rabbit has a smooth, soft and beautiful fur.  Having a greasy or matted fur is a sign that things are not well.

Changes in Urine and Waste

What out for changes in smell, texture, color and the amount of his waste.

Abnormal Noises

Rabbits like to grind their teeth when they are unwell. Screaming and other unusual vocalization could be a sign that he is feeling pain.

Respiratory issues

Gasping, wheezing and coughing are signs that your bunny isn’t well. Shortness of breath, mouth breathing, and flared nostrils are all signs that need your attention.

Other things you need to check out are drooling and behavioral changes.

Viral and Bacterial Illnesses

Sickness in rabbits may be caused by viruses or bacteria. Viral illnesses that affect most rabbits are pasturella, or snuffles, viral hemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis.  Snuffles is highly contagious and dangerous, so ensure you check your rabbits regularly. Myxoma, the virus that causes myxomatosis, is spread by contact with other rabbits or by bites from fleas, fur mites, flies, mosquitoes, etc. The symptoms of infection include lethargy, purulent conjunctivitis and puffy eyelids. Remember, there is no treatment for viral infections so you should take good care of your rabbits. Pasteurella multocida bacteria cause respiratory problems in rabbits but this can be treated using anti-bacterial drugs.

How Important is Socialization With My Rabbit

Being social animals, bunnies like spending time with humans and with their fellow bunnies. However, they tend to be shy when they meet a person or a new rabbit for the first time but this usually doesn’t last long because they bond easily with nice people and animals. However, you need not rush your rabbit into being social, give them time and allow everything to take a natural course. Socialization is good for their well-being but give them space if you notice they are not interested in you or if they need rest. They have good memories and if you scare them, it may take them long to trust you again.

3 Ways To Make It Home For My Rabbit

Rabbit are inquisitive but very fearful animals. To earn their trust, it may force you to change your own behavior so they can consider you as trustworthy. 

1. Playing with the rabbit

When you want to make your rabbit feel at home, learn how to play with him. Let him come to you and not the other way round – once you open the cage, take a few steps backward and lie on the floor to be at his level.

Play Carefully Especially In the Beginning

Rabbits are not like dogs that are very aggressive and are accommodative to wide range of personalities. They are very fearful and take time to get used to a new person or animal. When you meet for the first time, ensure the rabbit is very comfortable around you. Be patient, go slow and play on the rabbit’s terms. Playing with them rightly provides them with mental stimulation and exercise and also helps in building the bond between you.

Toys Are Good

Rabbits are just like children, if they don’t have adults to play with, they can make do with their toys. Rabbit like games that are engaging, like working on puzzles, knocking over things, shredding and throwing things, stealing and digging. These arouse their natural instincts. Get them children toys that are safe to play with. They like baby toys made of plastic, blocks of wood, knotted jute ropes, toys with bells, toilet paper tubes, and willow balls, You can also build for them cardboard houses or tunnels which they really like. Toys keep them very active which is a good form of exercise.

2. Offer him/her a treat

Offer him/her a treat in the palm of your hand. Just a small piece of carrot, apple or banana can do. Stay calm and don’t show any kind of suspicious movements as the rabbi may think you are trying to grab him.

3. No making noise

While with the rabbit, don’t shout or make noise and be gentle while touching him.

When you behave nicely, the rabbit will surely come to you.

Do Rabbits Get Lonely

Rabbits need to interact with humans. This is like a basic requirement for them. If they miss this, they will automatically get bored to an extent of being depressed and lonely. Even though toys can keep them busy, they still need human attention. We can describe them as being egocentric, and they may force you to change your habit or lifestyle to accommodate them fully. But being with them is fun, you can sometimes just lie on the floor and let them climb or jump on you.

Rabbit Entertainment What Does That Mean

Rabbits enjoy running around because they are very active. They like to play, hide, dig and chew. Playing is where entertainment comes in. If you want to make your rabbit happy, you must be ready to play with it. However, don’t force the rabbit into play; let it come naturally. It is better if the rabbit initiates it. Provide a stimulating environment for play – space to run, place to dig, items to search, and places to hide. Provide chewable things and lots of toys. Spare time to spend time with your rabbit every day to keep them entertained, otherwise they can get bored and depressed.

Cuddling Good Or Bad

It is good to cuddle and stroke a rabbit, but you must approach him in the right way or let him initiate the process, this will make him happier. If they seem rebellious, just let them alone, some don’t like to be carrier high up as this makes them feel scared. When you are friendly, the rabbit may snuggle next to you waiting to be cuddled or he can sit on your lap. Cuddling makes them feel loved and secure. You can stroke them on the backs, forehead and behind the ears, and remember to stroke in the direction of the fur.

How Much Time To Bond With My Bunny

Playing with your bunny is a daily routine – he needs it. And while at it, try to be patient and get down to his level (remember when you stand, your bunny sees you like a giant). Kneel down or lie on the floor. When the play time is over, they like to be left alone to groom and to feed. You can play hide and seek with your bunny – you hide and let him search for you. You can also move around and let him chase you. This is a very good exercise for the bunny. Bonding with your bunny is rewarding and satisfying for both of you. Failing to bond can depression to the animal.

Be Patient and Interact With Him

Remember Rabbits are not like other pets. They get bored very fast and like things to be done on their own terms.  If you lack patience, you can’t be a good rabbit owner. Take you time to learn his language to know what he needs. Each rabbit is different and the way you treat one may not be pleasing to the other one.

Do Rabbits See Kids As Predators

Rabbits should be handled by adults who understand them. Kids tend to be rough with rabbits as they might take them to be toys. Children might also think that rabbits are cartons they watch on TV and might want to treat them as such. This can be unbearable to the rabbits and therefore, they cannot be good friends with kids. Children like to run around and make a lot of noise. This really scares the rabbits that might consider them as predators. It can be observed that rabbits don’t like to play with children and even if the child tries to call them, they wouldn’t respond. If you want to get your child a pet, then a rabbit is not the best choice.

Do I Rabbit Proof My Home Before I get my Bunny

Bunnies are chewers. They enjoy dark places and are very snooping. This are the main reasons why you need to rabbit proof your house before you bring the rabbit into your home. Proofing your home, not only protect the rabbit but it also protects your property. If you have a big house that may be a challenge to proof then you can have an indoor fenced corner where the rabbit can freely move around. Rabbits chew anything they come across and you can imagine if they can chew your electrical cables or your leather sofa.

How to Stop your Rabbit Chewing Wires & Carpet

If your rabbit has to move freely in the house, then you have to check thoroughly which items should be placed where. You may also train them on what they can chew and what they should not chew. Electrical cables and other wires should be placed out of reach of the rabbits or they can be concealed in hard materials.

To stop rabbits from chewing your carpet, you can apply bitter apply Ivory soap or spray to the carpet. This will make the carpet taste bad to the bunnies. Give them alternative items that they can chew on. You can also block access to your carpet using smaller items or furniture.

Cage or Hutch

Most rabbit cages are made from wire mesh and they are therefore good for indoor use or they can be use outdoor in hot areas. Some cages are modified to have an enclose section where the rabbit can hide. This can make them good for use outdoors. Hutches on the other hand are made mainly of wooden bars and are therefore ideal for outdoor use. They are safe and can protect the rabbits from weather elements and from predators.  In both cases, try to provide enough room for the rabbit to play around.

Comfortable Bedding For My Bunny Friend

There is a wide variety of items you can use as bedding for your rabbit. Some of these include newspaper, wood pellets, shredded cardboard, straw and hay. Shredded newspaper can be used to line the floor of the hutch or cage. You can put some straw or hay over the newspaper so that the rabbit may not eat too much of it. Shredded pieces of cardboard are also great for rabbit bedding. Just like newspaper, they should also be covered with straw or hay.  Straw and hay keep your bunny comfortable and warm because it provides good insulation. Your bunny can also feed on them without any issue.

What Do You Use in Your Rabbit’s Hutch?

It is preferable to use hay as bedding for rabbits. When used as floor bedding, it should be replaced whenever it becomes dirty. Use a well-ventilated hutch and clean it regularly to prevent build-up of ammonia. It should also have mosquito netting or fly screen to protect the rabbit against mosquito bites that usually infect them with calicivirus or myxomatosis.  The hutch should have a litter box, unlimited hay, feeding bowls and waterer and a large exercise area. As stated earlier, you also need to provide your rabbit with a hiding place in case they need to rest or feel scared.

Water Water Water

As stated earlier, rabbits need a constant supply of fresh water. A single rabbit can consume about 100-600ml of water per day. On average, they consume 50-100ml/Kg body weight per day. Rabbits don’t drink warm water, so ensure it is cold, but not very cold. The water should always be clean to avoid infections. You can supply the water from a bowl or a bottle.

Hay Hay Hay Feed Me Hay

Hay is very important to rabbits. In fact it is their main food and should take up to 90% of their diet. Hay helps them function and keeps them healthy in a number of ways. It keeps their gut moving and helps in grinding their teeth which might overgrow. Hay also keeps them busy as they search other foodstuff in it and toss it around. In fact it is advisable to hide some snacks in the hay to make the rabbits enjoy searching. Rabbits need access to clean hay daily and should be provided with a quantity that is equivalent to their own body size.

1 Rabbit 2 Rabbits 3 Rabbits

How many rabbits should you keep in a cage? Well, the number actually depends on the age of the rabbits. Many young rabbits, 12 week old or less, can be kept together. Even though they need companions, too many adult rabbits put in one place can make them feel uncomfortable. It is therefore good to keep them in pairs and give them enough space. You must choose the two rabbits to pair carefully and only neutered rabbits should be paired. It is best to have a neutered male and neutered female together. A pair of litter brothers or sisters can also do well.

Can Rabbit Overheat

Rabbits neither pant nor sweat and this puts them at a high risk of overheating. Overheating in rabbits is called hyperthermia. Signs of overheating include:

  • Warm ears and feet
  • Seizures
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Collapse
  • Bloody fluid from the mouth or nose
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Dull/unresponsive
  • Blue-tinged mouth and nose
  • Not eating
  • Uncoordinated
  • Restless

If not treated in good time, hyperthermia can lead to death. As a first aid measure, you can move the rabbit to a well-ventilated and cool area, blow air over them and wet his ears. You can also spray the area between his legs and his belly with cold water. Always keep your rabbit in a cool area to prevent overheating.

Quickest Way To Know What Rabbit Is Saying

Apart from having the language that they speak to one another, they also have a language that they speak to humans. Like the movement of their ears can tell you whether there is something that has caught their attention. Grunting is an angry reaction while tooth clicking shows they are contented. Tooth grinding shows great pain or discomfort. Take your time to learn the following rabbit language: Honking, circling, mounting, spraying, territory droppings, chinning, thumping, nose-nudging, flopping, tail-wagging, begging, REM sleep, dancing, playing, happy feet, nipping, licking, lunging, upright tail, tense body, laid back ears, screaming and many more. Knowing rabbits language can help you know whether they are healthy or not.

What Should I do If I go For Vacation

Rabbits are highly dependent animals and they don’t like being left alone. But due to unavoidable circumstances, you may not be available to your rabbits as much as they would want. However, you should not take more than 2 days away from them otherwise they may suffer. If you have to stay away longer, ensure they have all their supplies that can last the time you will not be around and arrange with a trusted friend, pet-sitter or neighbor to take care of them while you are away.

Rabbit Care Basics in First Aid

Rabbits are adventurous and may get injured or infected in the escapades. You should therefore have a first aid kit for the pet. The kit should contain basic items such as include bandages, a tick remover, wash bottle, adhesive tape, swabs, sterile gauze, antibacterial cream cotton wool, among others. Grazes, cuts and wounds are very common in rabbits and the treatment involves cleaning with salty water then covering with a bandage to prevent the rabbit from licking it. For burns and scalds, run cold water over the affected area for about 10 minutes. Rabbits can also suffer from broken bones, foreign bodies, poisoning, heatstroke, fits, pet bites, eye injuries, etc.  Some of these may require you to call or take them to a vet for treatment.

A rabbit needs vet care if:

  •  Has lost appetite
  • Unresponsive/ Lethargic
  • G.I. Stasis
  • Non-existent or rapid pulse
  • High body temperature above 104°F or low body temperature below 99°F
  • Broken the skin
  • Panting or breathing difficulty /heatstroke
  • Head tilt
  • Head tilted or seizures
  • Difficulty in passing waste
  • Diarrhea
  • Signs of paralysis or weakness
  • Bite wound
  • Limb dangling or not moving normally
  • Drooling or unusual discharge
  • Uncontrolled Bleeding

The sooner you seek medical attention the better.

Are There Any Herbal Health Care Products

Just like humans, rabbits also have herbal health care products, and there is quite a number of them. Some can be included in their diet while others can be given only if they are unwell. A few examples include birch which is an anti-inflammatory and is good for pain relief and diuretic. Blackberry cures diarrhea while borage reduces stress and helps with fevers. Cleavers is a laxative and also heals cuts. Other herbs for rabbits include blue cohosh, chamomile, chickweed, coltsfoot, comfrey, dandelion, Echinacea, elder flower, eucalyptus, eyebright, fennel, garlic, ginger, goats rue,  golden rod, lambs quarters, lavender, lemon balm, licorice,  linseed, marigold, marjoram, mint, milk thistle,  meadowsweet, the list is very long.

Rabbit and Other Animals

Can rabbits behave like dogs or cats? The answer is “Maybe Yes”, rabbits behave like rabbits, and you have to be careful before you introduce your rabbit to other pets or even to other rabbits. Fights may break out which can cause injuries. Felines and canines like dogs naturally prey on rabbits and they can instantly kill your rabbit the moment he arrives home. On rare occasions, the rabbit may also injure other pets if he is very aggressive. Just like it takes time for humans to bond with rabbit, it also takes time to bond rabbits with other animals and it equally needs lots of patience.  And when your rabbit has bonded with one pet, don’t assume he will be friendly to all other pets. Don’t leave your rabbit alone with other animals.

In all, rabbits are great animals to have around. Some keep them for meat while others just keep them as pets. They are wonderful companions and can keep you entertained any moment you spend with them.